If you’ve had a baby before, or know someone who has, you may feel like you already know the routine when it comes to getting care and education during your pregnancy. You call your provider of choice and begin to see her one-on-one, with the visits getting more frequent toward your due date. On average, you’ll see your healthcare provider 14 or more times during pregnancy under the regular prenatal schedule.

But did you also know there’s another model for pregnancy care that is built around group support and that actually promotes health for mom and baby by reducing preterm birth risks and increasing infant birth weights?

Called Centering Pregnancy, and developed by nurse-midwife Sharon Schindler, pregnant women are invited after their initial exam to join a group of 8-12 women with similar due dates to go through pregnancy together. Each time the group meets, hot topics like nutrition, your baby’s development, pregnancy discomforts, exercise, relaxation, labor, parenting, contraception and infant care are covered.

If you progress without complications, you continue to meet with your group until you go into labor. If complications arise, you’re scheduled individually with your provider for additional care and you continue to meet with the group.

If this sounds empowering to you, women who choose this model say it is, particularly when they also include their partner or support person. Often, women who choose Centering Pregnancy continue to meet with group members postpartum, particularly to get their babies together for playtime. To find a Centering Pregnancy group near you, visit www.centeringhealthcare.org.

Join a Centering Pregnancy Group

Groups meet for 10, 2-hour group sessions that go something like this:

  • You check in at each session and using the provider’s equipment to measure and chart your own weight, blood pressure and if requested, you’d be taught how to check your urine specimen.
  • You meet with your clinician where she reviews your history, measures your growing uterus, listens for your baby’s heart tones, and orders any needed tests or ultrasounds. Depending on the group, this happens privately or within the larger setting.
  • Questions can be asked privately or if you have a common question, you may be asked to raise your question in the group discussion.
  • At each meeting, members share healthy snacks, chat and while others are being examined, fill out a self-assessment sheet relating to pregnancy and targeted to that group’s discussion for that meeting.

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